Anxiety and Depression Are Common!
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 40 million adults in the United States (18% of the population) aged 18 and older, have reported feeling anxious or depressed in the past year. So it comes as no surprise that antidepressants are one of the most prescribed medications in America.
But can you get addicted to them? If so, how do you quit?
We review the signs of addiction and your treatment options here. Plus, a section at the end for how to help a loved one. Then, we invite your questions or comments about treatment at the end. In fact, we try to respond to all questions with a personal and prompt reply.
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Are Antidepressants Addictive?
Antidepressants are not considered as addictive as heroin or alcohol, but repeated long-term use may cause psychological dependence. Why are people getting hooked?
Among the many reasons, latest scientific research shows that people (ab)use antidepressants as a result of obtaining them from a friend or relative for free. Prescription abuse has reached epidemic proportions. In addition to increased availability of antidepressants, another trend leading to misuse is the increased access to “no-prescription websites”. These websites sell medications to customers without a valid prescription, and without medical guidance or supervision.
What are the Signs of Addiction?
But what really distinguishes use from abuse? How can you know when your antidepressant use has turned to addiction? The following symptoms might signal an alarm for treatment:
- continued use despite negative consequences
- doctor shopping (visiting multiple physicians to obtain antidepressants)
- failed attempts to quit
- loss of interest in hobbies or social activities
- withdrawal symptoms
If any of these symptoms start bothering your, you should consider looking for help. Where can you start? Call us! We’ll help you find the best treatment program for your needs, location and budget.
Safely Breaking Free From Antidepressants
When considering quitting antidepressants, you shouldn’t rush into anything. On the contrary, a step-by-step strategy can successfully lead you towards sobriety. Here are some of our top suggestions.
Step #1. Make peace with the truth. Many addicts deny the existence of a problem, listing dozens of excuses for their substance abuse. One way to accept the presence of a drug problem is to talk to a professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, or rehab expert). Not only can a formal talk help you identify the problem, it can help normalize it. You are not BAD; addiction is a medical condition. Once you know this, then you can face the consequences of your actions. REMEMBER THIS: You must make the first step to change, no one can do it for you.
Step #2. Take one step at a time. Don’t rush into a withdrawal in detox. You may want to quit antidepressants right away, but you risk experiencing a rebound depression if you go off them cold turkey. Doctors usually recommend a gradual dose reduction of antidepressants for 6-9 months instead of an abrupt cessation. Seek advice from your doctor or a pharmacist about the benefits and risks of antidepressants in your particular situation, and plan the cessation TOGETHER.
Step #3. Prepare your surroundings and organize your life. Before quitting, your physical and psychological condition should be stable. Additionally, quitting antidepressants requires living in a safe and drug-free surrounding. Make sure that your life circumstances are stable, and that you can cope with any negative thoughts that might emerge. DO NOT TRY TO QUIT while you’re under stress or undergoing a significant change in your life, such as a new job or an illness.
Step #4. Attend psychotherapy. Because antidepressant abuse causes strong psychological dependence it can be very helpful to undergo psychotherapy. According to Harvard medical studies, individuals who undergo psychotherapy while discontinuing an antidepressant are less likely to have a relapse.
Step #5. Seek medical treatment. It has been proven that addiction is a manageable condition. During treatment, a medical detox will help you safely pass through antidepressant detox. You will also receive a tapering schedule, designed to help you gradually come off antidepressants. Comprehensive treatment under medical supervision will help you focus and work on all the underlying issues behind your addiction. You can either choose to attend:
Inpatient (residential) treatment programs require you to check into a controlled environment and live at the clinic for 30-60-90 days or longer. Residential addiction treatment programs provide medical and emotional support. During your time in rehab, doctors and licensed clinical psychologists will guide you through your recovery process. You’ll have the chance to tell them about any physical or emotional symptoms that may arise during and after antidepressant discontinuation. Medical staff at inpatient clinics care about your condition and might prescribe some other, non-antidepressant medications such as:
- anti-anxiety medications
- sleeping aids
to ease withdrawal symptoms. In case your condition gets more complicated and withdrawal symptoms intensify, you’ll be taken back to your previous dose and reduce the levels more slowly.
Outpatient (non-residential) treatment programs are more flexible and allow you to schedule treatment sessions various times throughout the week. This type of treatment is suitable for those who can’t leave regular responsibilities and must continue to live at home due to family obligations. Outpatient treatment programs for antidepressant addiction come in a variety of formats but mainly include counseling, education, and peer support network.
Step #6. Check in with your clinician after you finish treatment. Follow-up with appointments with your prescribing doctor make sure discontinuation symptoms have eased and there are no signs of returning depression. Ongoing monthly check-ins are very important if you want to avoid relapse and maintain your sobriety.
What happens when you call our hotline?
When you call us, our hotline staff will respond quickly and offer a compassionate ear. Our main goal is to provide you with information about antidepressant addiction treatment. In fact, we won’t judge you. Because we know that addiction is a medical condition. Instead, we’ll make sure you feel comfortable discussing your personal situation. Our recovery specialists will spend as much time with you as you need. The hotline is:
You can talk openly with us about:
- How long you’ve been using antidepressants
- How much and how often you use antidepressants
- Whether or not you’re drinking or using other drugs besides antidepressants
- Other mental health issues you’re battling
Stages of Addiction Treatment
STAGE 1: Intake and assessment: Intake is usually an interview that happens when you check into the rehab facility. During the conversation, you’ll be asked a number of questions about yourself such as:
What drugs are you currently taking?
Have you been diagnosed with any mental health conditions?
Do you have any kind of social support (friends or family)?
Are you married and do you have any children?
How did your antidepressant addiction influence your family, social, academic, and professional life?
Were there any other cases of substance abuse or any other chronic diseases in your family?
Have you received any previous treatment?
Do you have any criminal history?
What motivated you to enter treatment (an intervention, job loss, court order, etc.)?
This data is collected and all the information you give is strictly private. The information is necessary so the treatment center can put together a personalized treatment plan for you. In addition to questions, the intake session might include testing which includes: a physical exam, urine analysis, blood test, and/or breathalyser tests. The results from these exams are also used in the creation of your treatment plan.
STAGE 2: Detoxification : This procedure is done in order to remove toxins (drugs and alcohol) from the body. Medical detox includes a carefully guided process during which professionals “clean” your body from antidepressants. The main advantage of a medically supervised detox is to help you successfully manage withdrawal symptoms that may arise due to tolerance and to provide you with psychological support in cases of relapse.
STAGE 3: Therapy: Addiction treatment programs provide psychotherapy and behavioral therapies to help you get to the root causes of your addiction and learn new behaviors that don’t involve antidepressant use. These therapies may include:
- Family therapy
- Individual and group therapy sessions
- Psychotherapy and behavioral therapies
- Thorough planning for aftercare programs
STAGE 4: Aftercare services: Treatment usually continues even after you finish an addiction program. Before you leave the treatment center, a team will conduct a customized discharge plan to help you maintain sobriety. This plan is continually refined and tailored with your treatment progression. Upon discharge, you’ll be given all the contacts and resources needed to continue along you recovery road. After you leave your rehab try to remain in contact with alumni programs to receive ongoing support and avoid relapse.
Professional treatment programs can provide you with all the resources to succeed in overcoming your antidepressant dependence and addiction. In a hurry to feel better? Ready to live the life that you deserve? Reach a top rehab with a quick call!
Fear of Withdrawal
Regular use of antidepressants can change the way your brain processes emotions and regulates mood. Many of these changes create a flood of neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin), resulting in artificial feelings of pleasure. This is one of the reasons why people start abusing antidepressants in the first place.
Long term abuse creates physical and psychological dependence, making the brain and body captive the constant race for the initial effects. Once a dependence has formed, withdrawal symptoms will appear when these drugs are removed from the system. Overall, the most common symptoms during antidepressant withdrawal include:
- electric shocks / head zaps
- flu like symptoms
- stomach upsets
- suicidal thoughts
- vivid dreams
However, these symptoms can be addressed during medical detox. In fact, the safest way to cease upon antidepressants is by slowly reducing doses over several weeks under doctor’s guidance. At the least, a medical professional should create a tapering plan with you. The best case scenario still includes 24-7 monitoring with both medical and emotional support during the process of withdrawal.
IMPORTANT: Antidepressants should never be stopped “cold turkey.” Any abrupt cessation might intensify withdrawal symptoms.
ANOTHER NOTE: You should be aware that depression is a common symptom during antidepressant withdrawal and therefore requires an alternate treatment. Psychotherapy, mindfulness, meditation, and behavioral treatment are highly effective in helping you overcome depression.
If you, or someone you know is fighting depression and addiction there are many affordable ways to get help. Call an addiction recovery specialist now to discuss your options.
Mental Health Disorders + Addiction
One of the most common underlying reasons why people turn to antidepressants is because they are self-medicating issues such as:
- Eating disorders
- Lack of self-esteem
- Social anxiety
The presence of two disorders at the same time requires a “Dual Diagnosis” treatment. Evidence-based treatment models combine the expertise of clinicians with scientific research to determine the best course of action. Dual Diagnosis treatment is most successful when both antidepressant addiction and other co-occurring disorder are treated with equal care and attention.
Whether you, or your loved one, struggles with depression, antidepressant dependence, or both, we provide comprehensive and compassionate care plans designed to fit each individual’s unique set of circumstances. Contact us today and start your recovery journey.
Luxury and Executive Treatment Centers
Sometimes, individuals who struggle with addiction to antidepressants are those in charge of executive functions. These people have responsibilities that cannot be ignored. If you are looking for rehab that allows you to go through treatment while working on business projects, continue reading.
Luxury and executive rehab programs are tailored to the needs of hard working professionals, lawyers, businesspeople and those whose positions require confidentiality and discretion when struggling with substance addiction issues such as antidepressant dependence. When attending a luxury and executive treatment program for antidepressant addiction expect to receive:
- Access to computers
- Maximum privacy and discretion
- Private conference rooms, with phone and internet access
- Private trainers
- Professional chefs
- Spa treatments, yoga, and meditation classes
- Travel services
Luxury and executive rehabs for antidepressant addiction can address the challenges of business and career responsibilities. Dial 1-877-959-7619 to find a treatment programs that best meets your specific needs.
How to Help a Loved one with Antidepressant Addiction
Does your addicted loved one feel:
- skeptical about treatment services
You might feel relieved to know that you can help them.
Family members play an important role in helping a loved one with substance addiction. If your loved struggles with antidepressant addiction, you can start by learning about addiction itself. Start to understand the brain scient that lies behind it…and you’ll begin to understand addiction more objectively. You can also look into treatment options to present when your loved one is ready for help. Further, you can use different strategies to support your loved one’s recovery such as:
- Encourage them to join peer support groups.
- Listening to any concerns your loved one has.
- Make sure appointments with treatment providers are kept.
- Participate in family therapy together with your loved one.
- Show understanding and compassion about your loved one antidepressant addiction.
- Support your loved one’s involvement in sober activities.
Ongoing Treatment and Relapse Prevention
- Responsibilities and
…which must be faced. Therefore, maintaining a support system where understanding and encouragement are assured is essential… for at least the 6 months up to a year following rehab. Making it through treatment is a major accomplishment. Nevertheless, despite hard-won gains, your work does not end after completing the program. Aftercare provides a continuation of counseling and support once treatment program is successfully completed. Aftercare includes services that will make your transitioning into your new life more successful and with less risk of relapse.
Sometimes aftercare is a part of a lifelong health plan. Continuing care can be received in the form of:
- Alumni group meetings
- Individual counseling
- Ongoing addiction education
- Social activities
If you’re struggling with addiction to antidepressants, reach out TODAY.
Professional support may be all you need to recover…and live a happy, satisfying life.